From the depths of despair to a symbol of hope.
That is how 17-year-old Christina Kapusty describes her life over the last year. The desire for perfection, the self-loathing and a horrible body image resulted from years of nasty comments about her weight. Starving, binge eating, blacking out, a racing heart and the slow shutting down of her organs to a point where her heart rate was only 19 beats per minute describes the terrifying ordeal that Christina, and her family underwent over the course of six devastating months in 2015.
After twice being sent home by her local hospital, Christina was so weak and afraid of dying that she asked to go to McMaster Children’s Hospital. She walked through the doors and nearly collapsed as she was severely malnourished and dehydrated. Being admitted that August saved and changed Christina’s life. Her journey was often harrowing with both the treatment and recovery having many ups and downs.
“I didn’t understand that not eating would damage my organs and could cause my death. I just wanted to lose weight so the bullying would stop.” -Christina Kapusty
A team of specialists in eating disorders lead by Dr. Grant, and a range of other specialists including pediatric cardiologist, Dr. Almeida, were responsible for Christina’s care. Restoring her physical health was critical before the team could work with Christina to address the underlying causes of her illness.
Six months after discharge, her body has recovered and emotionally she is stronger than ever. With the support of her family, Christina wanted to be public about her experience. By doing so, Christina has already helped others. Motivated by her experience, Christina sought and won the title of Miss Teenage Burlington in February 2016, and with that position wants to help reduce the stigma of mental illness and encourage other teenagers to get the help they need.
“No one should go through what I did,” Christina explains. “I didn’t understand that not eating would damage my organs and could cause my death. I just wanted to lose weight so the bullying would stop.”
Giving back to McMaster Children’s Hospital and the team that saved her life, while also being very public about both bullying and mental illness has given purpose to Christina.
“Mental illness is like any other disease,” says Christina. “It can be treated, and you can recover, but you have to get help and not be afraid or embarrassed.”
Christina and her family will celebrate the 5th birthday of Walk & Wheel for Miracles. To participate in this year’s event, please visit www.mackids.ca/walkandwheel.